Jonny Bairstow and Alex Hales hailed “another very special day” at Trent Bridge, after capitalising on the pristine batting conditions at their favourite ground for ODI cricket and smashing England’s own record for the highest team total in one-day cricket.
After being asked to bat first in the third ODI – on the grounds that Tim Paine, Australia’s captain, didn’t know what would constitute enough runs on what was self-evidently a belter of a pitch – England rampaged to a massive total of 481 for 6, beating by 37 runs the previous record of 444 for 3 that they made here against Pakistan in 2016.
And Hales, who top-scored on that occasion with a (then-) England record of 171, was once again the stand-out scorer, with 147 from 92 balls, including a century from 62 deliveries. It was the ideal riposte from a batsman whose place in the side had been under scrutiny, with Ben Stokes expected to dislodge him when he returns from injury against India next month.
Asked if he felt excitement or relief at his innings, Hales told Sky Sports: “I’d say a little bit of both, but more excitement. What a ground, we’ve had some great memories here as a team, chasing 380 against New Zealand, and setting another record here as well. They are great memories and today’s another very special day. “What a pitch,” Bairstow said. “It was really, really good fun out there. Bairstow’s 139 from 92 balls was his fourth ODI hundred in his last six innings, and he admitted he couldn’t pinpoint what was making his current form so destructive.
“I’ve got no idea, to be honest with you,” he said. “It’s just a case of relaxing and watching the ball. Each opposition gives you different challenges, each bowler gives you different challenges.
“I mean, you look at [Billy] Stanlake, at 6ft9, compared to [Jhye] Richardson, who’s smaller and skiddier. That’s just the nature of bowlers around the world. It’s just a case of maintaining your consistency, doing your same things day after day, and keep enjoying it, and that’s what I’m doing at the moment. Hales arrived at the crease in the 20th over, with 159 runs already on the board thanks to Jason Roy’s opening effort of 82 from 61 balls, and it was clear from the outset what his job would be.
“Just keep the momentum going,” he said. “I’ve got enough experience of playing here to know it’s a good pitch and a fast scoring ground. I know it like the back of my hand, so it’s nice to come in, get off to a decent start and build a partnership with Jonny. It gave us a real platform to do something special. England’s innings didn’t quite overhaul the overall record in ODI cricket – 490, as set last week by New Zealand’s women against Ireland – but it did at one stage look as though 500 was on the cards.
“Potentially,” admitted Bairstow. “When Morgs [Eoin Morgan] got going right at the end there, it was definitely something that the lads were thinking.
“It was murmured,” said Hales. “Morgs was saying if ever there’s a chance to do it, now’s the time. We just couldn’t get going at the end there with the wide slower balls, but what a day…so far. “They’ve got to come swinging, so we’ve got to be smart with our variations, and field well.”